Maryland Food Bank Mobile Food Programs
Mobile food programs are portable pantries that distribute food directly to individuals and families in need. Mobile deliveries are held at Maryland Food Bank network partner agencies, as well as retirement homes, schools and other central locations in low-income communities. The Maryland Food Bank simply delivers a 6,000+-pound load of food and volunteers from the host site distribute the food to clients. Each mobile food program event serves approximately 200 families. A single cost-effective delivery reduces the burden on local agencies that may struggle to transport and store sufficient quantities of food to meet the need in their community. The Maryland Food Bank operates two mobile food programs:
Produce Giveaways, which delivers fruits and vegetables to urban communities that lack consistent access to fresh produce. In Fiscal Year 2012, the Maryland Food Bank held 369 Produce Drops.
Pantry On the Go, which targets suburban and rural communities where assistance sites are far apart and public transportation is limited. Pantry On the Go distributes a variety of fresh and non-perishable products. Last year, the Maryland Food Bank hosted 325 Pantry On the Go events.
Read a story about Produce Giveaways provided in Creating Communities through fresh food
Betty Bland-Thomas, President of the Sharpe-Leadenhall Community Association, begins the distribution process. "Numbers 1 through 10, you're up!"
People begin to move to the middle of the church where the six stations of produce are located. These people have been here the longest, some arriving as early as noon for a 2:30 p.m. start time. They begin at Station 1, which is full of drinks like water and juice. They move down the line, receiving tremendous amounts of fresh produce—enough to feed others in need as well.
"I'm a retired nurse, but still in pretty good shape," comments Eva, who is close to eighty in age. "My husband and I are able to get out, but certain elderly people in my neighborhood just can't." She looks down at her box of peaches. "We usually bring them back as much as we can. There are about eight people in my neighborhood that we do this for." Since Eva is carrying enough food to feed eight families in her community she will need help taking all of it home. This is something that Betty has already thought of.
Betty gestures to Ed, one of the male volunteers. He is from South Baltimore Station, a transitional housing center for men with addiction. Ed will walk Eva home and help her carry her bags of food to her house. "I enjoy doing this because it allows me to give back to the community," he comments. "South Baltimore Station has helped me with my emotions and helped me stay clean. Distributing this produce is just one way the men from the station can help others."
Before the day is over, many members of the Sharpe-Leadenhall community will benefit from the fresh produce distributed by the Maryland Food Bank. Some will receive this food indirectly, through their family members and friends who attended the produce drop; others will receive the produce that remains after everyone has been served. Still others will receive the produce as it is dropped off at various senior centers in the community.